It’s Time to Stand Up for Clean Water
With the start of the new year, it’s time for the Obama Administration to make good on its commitment to clean water by restoring protections to small streams and wetlands under the Clean Water Act.
Last April, the Administration released its Clean Water Framework to demonstrate its commitment to safeguarding our nation’s rivers, lakes, and streams for clean water and public health. To solidify this commitment, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers released draft guidance to clarify the scope of the Clean Water Act.
Since the SWANCC and Rapanos Supreme Court decisions, enforcement of the Clean Water Act has declined and an estimated 2 million stream miles (excluding Alaska) that contribute to the drinking water supplies of 117 million Americans may not be protected under current interpretations of the Act. Finalizing this guidance and initiating a rulemaking process would restore protections to these waters.
Dirty, polluted waters create no economic value for communities or business owners. From the outdoor industry to the manufacturing sector, many businesses across the country rely upon access to clean water. Implementing a consistent approach to determine what waters are protected from pollution and degradation can help to reduce uncertainty for businesses and even reduce burdensome permit-review processes.
Beyond protecting clean water for swimming, fishing, and to use as a source of drinking water, clarifying the scope of the Clean Water Act would ensure protections for wetlands that provide critical flood storage. Across the country, 9.6 million homes and $390 billion in property are located in 15,000 square miles of flood-prone areas. Twenty percent of an estimated 100 million acres of wetlands in the continental United States may not be protected under the existing interpretations of the Clean Water Act. If these wetlands are not protected, the devastating impacts of flooding may only increase.
Today, with the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act approaching, it is more important than ever that this guidance is finalized and that the agencies initiate a rulemaking process to restore protections under the Act.
Take Action: Tell the Obama Administration that you support restoring clean water protections to keep your local waters safe enough to get your drinking water from and clean enough to fish and swim in!